Are You Turning Off Online Donors?
High donor attrition rates force nonprofits to constantly recruit new donors. According to the 2012 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the donor attrition rate is 58.5 percent. At the same time, fundraising economics have made online channels (Web, social, mobile) an important way to acquire and retain new donors across all demographic groups. So, most nonprofits are seeking ways to garner their share of the new funds moving online each year.
Just like direct mail, there are three simple ways, or key performance indicators (KPIs), to grow online donations:
- Website traffic — who sees your message.
- Donation conversion rate — what percentage of site visitors respond.
- Average gift size — how much they give.
But not everyone is achieving the results envisioned. Of these three KPIs, a below industry average conversion rate (No. 2) is the most frequent cause of disappointing online revenue. This article describes the causes of donor abandonment and how to reduce it. Included is a 20-question, self-scored survey to help nonprofits identify and locate problems in their donation processes. Based on the results, simple donation page design changes can be implemented in order to achieve the ultimate goal — increased donor acquisition and retention.
Even small, incremental improvements can greatly impact the number of donations received for your mission. For example, an improvement in conversion rate from 2 percent to 2.5 percent increases revenue by 25 percent.
Why are donations abandoned?
Often in their enthusiasm to communicate the good they do, organizations try to provide too much information or ask too many questions of donors who just want to fund their missions. A lengthy donation process or ineffective donation page design causes donors to abandon their donations — just as 71 percent of visitors to online retailers' sites abandon their shopping carts. Anything that causes psychological resistance to a given element in the online donation process is considered "friction," and friction reduces both your online revenue and the number of new donors you've identified and inspired. There are two main types of friction — length and difficulty.
Examples of length friction:
- Steps friction — requiring too many steps in order to make a donation
- Fields friction — making donors complete too many fields in order to complete a donation
Examples of difficulty friction:
- Decision friction — requiring a gift designation code and/or having multiple options
- Confusion friction — using unclear copy or insider language/acronyms
- Error friction — asking donors to enter all of their data again when an error is submitted
- Device friction — forcing donors to pinch or zoom to complete a donation on a mobile device
- Registration friction — requiring donors to create an account prior to giving a gift
- Focus friction — making it unclear to donors where they need to go and/or click in order to make their donations
How much friction is in your online giving process?
Answer the questions in the charts at right to find out where friction may be causing your potential supporters to abandon their donations. Then add the total number of "Yes" responses from Section 1 to the total number of "No" responses from Section 2.
If your score is:
- Between 1 and 3: You are doing pretty well. Good for you! But remember that “good” is the enemy of “great.” It is probably time to do some A/B split testing and optimize your online giving process.
- Between 4 and 8: There is definitely some friction in your online giving process — revisit Section 1 and consider what you could do differently to turn some of the “yes” answers into “no” answers.
- More than 9: The good news is that there is a lot of opportunity to increase online revenue. Consider contacting an expert in this area who can quickly help reduce the friction in your giving process, making it easier for people to give.
Regardless of how you scored, organizations can significantly grow online giving by improving conversion rates. Step one is to establish a baseline by implementing some basic Web analytics. Consider enabling e-commerce tracking. Then perform regular A/B testing of the message and donation form, along with observing and responding to donor behavior. With the right tools, optimizing results can be done in fewer than 10 minutes a day. One small improvement each month really adds up, ultimately generating more revenue to fund the organization’s mission.
Dan Gillett is CEO of Kimbia. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org